Not everyone is eager to go to the gym to lose weight. Exercise and dieting are, anyways, not the only way to reach your goal weight. This is good news for those who are less athletic, or who find working out in machines boring or too strenuous, like me. This is why I had been researching for other ways to reduce the pounds. Recently I discovered yoga as a means to become fitter and slimmer.
At first, as I was not yet sure how well I would like it, I signed myself up for a trial yoga training session in Richmond. My first impression upon entering the room was how many people were there, making me realize that there are many who are regularly practicing yoga.
In fact, there are many different kinds of yoga, but what is most recommended for weight loss is the Bikram version. This is very different to other types because you are doing it in a heated room! It is also supposed to bring participants healing benefits, or relief from previous conditions. Here are some of the reported advantages you can observe when you practice yoga:
- You get to work out every muscle, joint, ligament, tendon, internal organ, and gland. You will also improve circulation of oxygen-fresh blood, in turn, restoring the performance of all body systems.
- The postures of Bikram Yoga will build your strength, balance, and flexibility. At the same time, your bones and muscles are strengthened and joints lubricated.
- Your body weight will stabilize to what is optimal to body type. Almost everyone who does Bikram Yoga experiences weight loss.
- Your body will crave healthier food, instead of wanting fatty ones. This will support your losing weight as well.
- Your skin will look healthier and more vibrant.
- You can improve your sleeping habits.
- At the end of every session, you feel energized, less stressed and your mind will be revitalized. In time, you feel more relaxed and happier even in difficult situations. Psychologically, you will feel calmer and have a better sense of wellbeing.
- You will be relieved from arthritic pain and stiffness of joints. Additionally, symptoms of diabetes, anxiety, and depression will be reduced.
In short, you will feel improvement not just physiologically, but psychologically as well. This makes it an ideal therapy for those who want to reduce weight, become fitter and feel better at the same time.
It seems too good to be true, and in the beginning, I was also skeptical how these 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises would really achieve all these benefits.
I learned that the secret lies in the heat. When you are trying out these postures in higher temperatures, your muscles and connective tissue become elastic. This makes you more flexible and reduces the chance of getting an injury. Even your joints increase its range of motion because the warmth.
As you move, you sweat more, and this will assist detoxification of the skin. Moreover, blood becomes thinner, clearing your circulatory system. The heat also increases your body temperature, and when it is 3 to 5 degrees above normal, your thymus gland produces 20 times more T-cells, which fight infection and keep your immune system functioning well.
Because of your movements, your heart rate increases, having a positive influence on your cardiovascular system. Your capillaries dilate because of the higher temperature, delivering oxygen to your muscles, tissues, organs and glands. In the end, this will help remove waste products in your body.
You start to lose weight because warm muscles are more effective in burning fat. And when you stretch, fat has no space to sit, leading it to redistribute to your blood stream. It is then used up as energy. Glucose and fatty acids are broken down quickly as well, helping you lose the pounds.
Although other types of yoga bring some of these advantages too, the heat that is special to Bikram Yoga is the secret to its extra benefits. However, to be honest, it can really be a shock in the beginning, especially if you are not a fan of high temperatures. After 90 minutes of exercise in these conditions, it is normal to feel dizzy and nauseous. This is a sign of dehydration, this is why I was also advised to drink lots of liquids hours before the session.
As for me, the initial experience was good, so I decided to continue going to Bikram Yoga. In time, not only did I get used to working out in the heat, but I also learned to hydrate myself better.
After a few weeks, I did start to feel better, losing my craving for unhealthy food and surprisingly, losing weight. I also became more flexible, being able to do poses that were impossible to me at the beginning. Though the other physiological effects are hard for me to measure, in general, I feel very good and my outlook became more positive. This has convinced me to keep going, and l start to really enjoy and look forward to the days when I have sessions.